Improving harvest forecasts, yield predictions and crop productivity by monitoring and optimising zonal phytoclimates in covered strawberry production
As part of the BerryPredictor project, EMS is configuring a prototype autonomous system that will monitor phytoclimate and local and oncoming weather conditions, and act on this by opening tunnel vents to zonally optimise the phytoclimate.
This system has been named the Phytoclimate Sensing and Control System, or PSCS for short.
It is intended that the PSCS will increase the controllability of the phytoclimate in the growing area, overall and zonally. This will contribute to the optimization of fruit yield and quality and, within the overall BerryPredictor concept, help match production to demand.
There is an increasing consumer and retailer demand for high-quality UK-grown strawberries.
Achieving consistently high yields and quality across the variable UK seasons can be challenging. New growing innovations are necessary to optimise UK fruit production and meet market demand.
BerryPredictor will develop new soft fruit growing strategies from an improved understanding of how to optimise individual plant performance across the growing area. ‘
Project outputs will benefit UK growers, supermarkets and consumers and wider society.
The Phytoclimate Sensing and Control System (PSCS) will be a specialisation of EMS’s Autonomous Sensing and Control Platform (ASCP).
The ASCP is an easily deployed sensing and control platform for autonomous control (Sense – Think – Act) of processes using embedded AI. It can be applied to the reliable and robust control of processes and situations, replacing human input and human reasoning. The platform is modular, wireless, can be self-powered, and connected to the internet for oversight and easy reconfiguration.
The ASCP is made up of specialised modules for monitoring (Monitoring Station Module – MST), control (Control Station Module – CST), and for central decision making and communications (Hub Module – HUB). Multiple MSTs and CSTs can be incorporated into a single system. The modules are accessible over the internet or via Bluetooth apps.
The system has an associated cloud-hosted database and web-hosted dashboard for remote configuration, observability, and fault diagnosis and alarming.
Commercial instances of the ASCP exist for flood control in wastewater networks (CENTAURTM) and for additive control for wastewater treatment (IRONMANTM). The system has also been considered as an irrigation sensing and control system for large farms. The modules are shown schematically enacted as CENTAURTM in Figure ES1.
The ‘blueprint’ for the ASCP’s design included the following criteria – operation in harsh environments; autonomy with visibility; reliability; super-connectivity; multiple control points; integration with any sensors. The system can Sense-Think-Act in isolation, adapting to day-to-day circumstances, as systems and situations evolve. It can mimic, replace and outperform human reasoning.
Project Partners and Funding
This project has been funded by Innovate UK and has been developed with project partners Berry Gardens Growers Ltd, Crop Desk Technologies Ltd, Saga Robotics Ltd, Weatherquest Ltd, NIAB, University of Reading and University of Lincoln.
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